Sunday, May 11, 2014

Every Day is Mother's Day

I have three mothers.  Besides my Mom, there's my stepmom, Heather, and my mother-in-law, Anne. All three of them put a high value on their privacy, and so this paean to motherhood probably going to come off sounding a little generic. It shouldn't. These three women are anything but ordinary...even among mothers, who tend to be a cut above the ordinary themselves.

Circumstances prohibit my seeing any of the three of them near as often as I should. (I'm known as the invisible son-in-law; to my shame, I'm also an invisible son and stepson.) But I carry the three of them with me through my life, and I'm so very grateful for that.

The three of them, each in their way, are strong and resilient beyond my ability to describe. That strength can be intimidating, viewed at a distance. They do not live life in the passive mode; they are actors, fully conscious and competent. But again, each in their way, they embody compassion, not just cold competence. They are strong, yes, but so is their love.

The deepest, most life-sustaining parts of me come from my mother. I owe her my spirituality and my twin passions for words and music. The deep, seemingly limitless wellspring of love that is my single defining characteristic is her greatest gift to her son. She's a complicated woman, a study in opposites that somehow synthesize into a walking miracle.Kind of like my wife...of course. They say that men marry their mothers. That's not true, thanks to my next paragraph...but there are definite similarities between Eva and my mom, and all of them are good similarities to have.

The lessons I've absorbed from Eva's mom have largely come secondhand, through the remarkable woman she helped to craft. Among the many, many gifts that Eva has granted me, two stand out above all, and both come direct from Anne: her limitless strength in the face of anything life can throw at her (which, admittedly, I can only tap, so far)...and her restless, roving mind, endlessly curious, which gathers blacks and whites and produces lovely shades of grey. Eva, like her mom, is a woman of strong opinion who nevertheless can argue any side of any issue. From Eva I have learned that no position is worth taking unless you understand how you get to it...which means understanding how others derive different positions. That's a rare quality in the world.

Heather's lessons also come to me secondhand, through my father, whom she loves dearly. She has given my dad the freedom to let his emotions out, which has brought us closer together. She's a conciliator, a consensus-builder, a person who projects above all an aura of caring. That mix of indomitable spirit and empathy is a source of inspiration for me.

I love all three of you. I hope you know that.

Happy Mother's Day.

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